The latest Stanley Cup odds, courtesy online bookmaker Bovada:
New York Rangers — 2/1
Chicago Blackhawks — 11/5
Anaheim Ducks — 12/5
Tampa Bay Lightning — 19/4
Now, there’s always some smart guy who mentions it in the comments section, so we might as well beat him to the punch:
No, the odds aren’t always exactly what the oddsmakers believe to be 100-percent true. In this case, there’s possibly been a slight adjustment based on the size of New York’s fan base compared to, say, Tampa Bay’s. Generally, people like to bet on their favorite teams, and an Original Six team like the Rangers, in a big city like New York, has a lot of fans.
Then again, maybe Tampa Bay’s the long shot of the four because the oddsmakers just don’t think the Lightning have been very good in the playoffs. (Which they really haven’t been.)
Anyway, here are the Conn Smythe Trophy favorites:
Henrik Lundqvist — 4/1
Patrick Kane — 17/2
Corey Perry — 9/1
Jonathan Toews — 19/2
2.00 — Goals per game for the Rangers in these playoffs. The reason they’re in the conference finals is they’ve only given up 1.67 per game, thanks in large part to Henrik Lundqvist (.944 save percentage). Remarkably, six of the Rangers’ eight wins have been by a score of 2-1. Derick Brassard and Chris Kreider lead the Blueshirts with five goals each, followed by Derek Stepan with three, while Rick Nash, Carl Hagelin, Kevin Hayes, Ryan McDonagh and Dan Boyle have two each.
55.4 — Anaheim’s faceoff percentage, the highest of the four remaining teams. The Ducks struggled in this area last postseason, but the addition of Ryan Kesler (63.7% this year), who replaced Nick Bonino (45.8% last year), has really helped them. Should be interesting to see how Kesler does against Jonathan Toews, one of the best faceoff men in the game.
10-1 — The combined overtime record of the four remaining teams, led by the Rangers (4-0). The only team that’s suffered an overtime loss is Anaheim (Game 3 versus Calgary).
48.31 — Tampa Bay’s Corsi close percentage, the lowest of the four remaining teams. Which lends credence to the notion that the Lightning haven’t really played up to their potential in the postseason. In a related story, Ben Bishop was excellent versus Montreal, registering a save percentage of .940 in six games, while outplaying Hart Trophy favorite Carey Price. Let’s see how Bishop does versus Lundqvist.
9 — Power-play goals allowed by Chicago. Six to Nashville, then three more to Minnesota. Poor penalty killing is not something that’s normally associated with successful playoff teams, so the Blackhawks will want to tighten that area up versus the Ducks, who’ve scored nine power-play goals in nine games.
We all saw the hit Brooks Orpik put on Dan Boyle last night:
After the game, Rangers coach Alain Vigneault reportedly thought Boyle would be fine. But the 38-year-old didn’t look particularly fine trying to skate off the ice, and he didn’t return to the game.
Many observers felt Orpik deserved to be penalized for a hit to the head.
Ex-referee Kerry Fraser, however, deemed the hit legal.
Fraser’s full explanation is here at TSN.ca. But it boils down to Rule 48, which was reworded in 2013 to clarify that only “avoidable” contact to head would be punished.
According to Fraser, the contact to Boyle’s head was not illegal, because:
– Boyle placed himself in a vulnerable position.
– The Rangers player materially change his body and head position immediately prior to the hit delivered by Orpik.
– Orpik attempted to hit squarely through his opponent’s body and did not “pick” Boyle’s head.
The NHL has applied the reworded Rule 48 before. Remember when Radko Gudas was not suspended for a hit on Scottie Upshall?
Fraser, for the record, does not like the fact that Orpik’s hit was a legal one. In fact, he feels it’s “time to rethink the end game and re-draft” Rule 48 to outlaw hits that are “designed to inflict excessive punishment on a vulnerable player.”
New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist carries a lot of enviable accolades. If it wasn’t already a safe thing to do, you can probably put “money goaltender” on that overflowing list.
Plenty of stats sprouted up before, during and after the Rangers’ 2-1 overtime win against the Washington Capitals, and just about any related to Lundqvist were highly complimentary. Quite a few were pretty mind-blowing, even.
Specifically, he’s been almost unbeatable in Game 7 situations. Look at the all-time giants he’s already tied with:
Being shoulder-to-shoulder with Martin Brodeur and Patrick Roy is quite the feat. It’s not as if Lundqvist is just riding along with great support, either, as he’s been like a wall with everything on the line.
If Justin Williams is worried about Lundqvist grabbing the “Mr. Game 7” moniker from him, his amazing numbers extend to other elimination situations:
Wow, that’s something else, right? As an added bonus, Lundqvist even dominates in the “weird coincidences” category:
The 33-year-old also has an Olympic gold medal to his name, so more and more, it really feels like a Stanley Cup is about the only thing Lundqvist is lacking. Perhaps he’ll amend that over the next month-or-so, then?
Chances are, he won’t be easy to beat either way.
New York Rangers forward Derek Stepan had his, erm, “Stepan Matteau” moment when he scored the 2-1 OT winner against the Washington Capitals in Game 7.
Still, if you ask his Rangers teammates, he’s done more than score a memorable goal. The praise goes high for his larger body of work in that tight series.
“I thought Stepan was the best player all series,” Kevin Hayes said, according to WFAN’s Sean Harnett.
Hartnett reports that Chris Kreider backed that up, pointing out that Stepan was making “little plays” before this huge one drew all that attention.
It’s no surprise that Stepan received “The Broadway Hat,” although one wonders if some of the logic follows that the Rangers probably get tired of handing it over to Henrik Lundqvist so often:
Here’s Stepan’s take on Wednesday’s big Game 7 win.